Alison Bechdel created the brilliant, long running Dykes to Watch Out For in 1983. By 2008, when the strip went on hiatus, Bechdel had cemented herself as one of the preeminent cartoonists of her generation. Her graphic memoir Fun Home was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of a GLAAD Media award among many, many other commendations. A theater adaptation is debuting on Broadway in late March of 2015.
Her next graphic memoir/biography, Are You My Mother? was similarly lauded. And in 2014 she was a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Award.
We had the privilege of speaking with Bechdel a few weeks back while she was visiting Ann Arbor as a guest lecturer for the University of Michigan's Penny Stamps series. In our interview, we spoke about some of her cartooning influences, how she balances projects, and her upcoming work a graphic novel about exercise titled The Secret to Superhuman Strength:
“I wanted to do something kind of fun after these deep searching painful family memoirs one thing that i've always done is exercise, you know physical stuff so i thought maybe it would be fun to write about. [...] I’ve been alive since 1960 which is kind of when our craze with physical fitness began [...] as a culture wide phenomenon I think that the 60’s is when this current craze began [...] partly because we had become so inactive in our lives it will hopefully be sort of a cultural history as well as my own story, because I followed all of those fads.”
You can learn more about Mark Trail, the strip we discussed here